You know that summer is almost here when the produce section starts stocking better looking berries, and it’s always a thrill for me to welcome the long strawberry season. Flavorful, versatile and nutritious, strawberries are one of the most well-liked fruits in the United States and perhaps the most popular of all the berries. In addition to their sweet juicy flavor and gorgeous crimson color, strawberries are packed with fiber and potassium and have the most Vitamin C of any berry, all at only 25 calories per half cup.
Strawberries have been known since the time of the Greeks and Romans, and cultivation of strawberries began around 1624. Commercial growing in North America began about 1800 on the east coast of the United States. Strawberries moved west with the pioneers and now there are more than seventy varieties of strawberries, many of which are grown in California and Florida. Nowadays the fruit is usually available year round, but peak season is from April to July, when strawberries are welcomingly inexpensive.
Many people love to transform their strawberry crop into chunky preserves or perhaps make simple but flavorful fruit soups. I love to bring out strawberry’s international side, specifically with a slant towards the Italian. Take bruschetta, for instance: this traditional Italian appetizer consists of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with chopped tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil. With a little imagination, I have spun the traditional bruschetta into a new dessert, Fresh Strawberry Bruschetta. I have also made a variation of the panna cotta, the traditional creamy eggless Italian custard, and of course strawberries are the star here as well.
Pair one or both of these sweet strawberry desserts with a light Italian fish or pasta meal and create new refreshing summer traditions in your home. Buon appetito!